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Who put the fox in charge of the henhouse?

When you are away from the office who is in charge of the your people or your business. If you’re lucky you have someone you can rely on; someone you can trust. But how trustworthy are they? Have you done everything in your power to build trust? If you have their trust already it is a pretty safe bet that you can trust them too. So what does it take to build that trust?

Here are some things you can do to reassure that trust so when you leave for any extended period you know you can rely on that person to do what’s right, to know what you would do, or to at least call you in a crunch if they are unsure. Let’s be honest, it’s your job (or business) on the line so it is much more important to you, unless that person really has your best interest at heart.

1. The first thing to do to build trust is start showing trust in them a little at a time. Give the person you have the most faith in some things to do without watching over them or ridiculing their every move. This is delegation and must be done right. Take the time out of your busy schedule to walk them through every aspect of the task. The more important the task is, the more time you need to take, and the more you need to have them try or practice the task at hand with you coaching them through it. The more care you take to coach them the better you’ll be able to trust them when the time comes.

2. Be transparent about as much as you can without sacrificing confidentiality. Transparency breeds trust. When you collaborate with people regularly, share about the big picture and your vision, and provide your reasoning on things they will feel like you are taking them into your confidence.

3. Involve them in the decision making process as much as possible. There will naturally be times when you need to make decisions without their input but be honest when you feel that way and ask their opinion as much as possible about what they would do. Even if you don’t use their ideas they will feel much more a part of the decision making process because you actually asked for their input. Try to understand their point of view or have them justify their input so you understand even if you choose not to use it.

4. Always ask a question before offering input. This is a crucial part of effective coaching. A perfect example is to ask if they are open to a suggestion when you want to offer advice. “You seem to be struggling with that, can I offer some advice?” They will probably never say “no” but you have set the stage for more open communications and have started to build trust. Telling is not trust-building, asking is!

When choosing the right person remember that it may surface that there is someone better. While you’ve been building trust with that person you’ve actually developed them. Don’t feel bad about changing your decision about who will be your next leader. You should be trying to build trust with all your subordinates anyway. In the words of Tony Robbins, it is not about the resources, it’s about the resourcefulness of the person. Also remember a key factor in making people feel more confident is to recognize them. Bob Pike said, what gets rewarded gets done, but what gets recognized gets repeated.

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